Sicario: Day of the Soldado

High-minded bad-assness

In response to the Mexican drug cartels’ shift to smuggling terrorists into the USA, Agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) again teams up with the unpredictable Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). Their plan is to start a war among the cartels by kidnapping the teenage daughter (Isabela Moner) of one kingpin in a very black operation and blaming it on another. Things go wrong when corrupt Federales ambush the convoy and die swiftly in the process. (Have you ever seen an action movie in which the convoy is not attacked? Just sayin’.)

This causes the chicken-livered POTUS to cancel the operation and order all evidence erased, including the daughter. Matt reluctantly orders Alejandro to murder the kid, but Alejandro refuses due to his own lost daughter issues. Meanwhile, a young American becomes involved with snakehead immigrant smuggling. The two plot lines eventually cross to explosive effect. This mad sequel to 2015’s terrific Sicario tones down that film’s ominous and nihilistic geopolitical message but retains its gritty allure and moral ambiguity, to produce an intense if more conventional thriller with eerie topicality. Excellent stunts and camera techniques, too. Missing: Emily Blunt’s humanizing character.

Note: I’m usually kind of insulted when a movie brazenly sets up its next sequel, but I’m glad we’ll be seeing more of Mr. Del Toro. (122 min)